Here’s Why We Think Spirent Communications (LON:SPT) Is Well Worth Watching

It’s only natural that many investors, especially those who are new to the game, prefer to buy shares in ‘sexy’ stocks with a good story, even if those businesses lose money. But as Warren Buffett has mused, ‘If you’ve been playing poker for half an hour and you still don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.’ When they buy such story stocks, investors are all too often the patsy.

In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like Spirent Communications (LON:SPT). Now, I’m not saying that the stock is necessarily undervalued today; but I can’t shake an appreciation for the profitability of the business itself. In comparison, loss making companies act like a sponge for capital – but unlike such a sponge they do not always produce something when squeezed.

View our latest analysis for Spirent Communications

How Fast Is Spirent Communications Growing Its Earnings Per Share?

Over the last three years, Spirent Communications has grown earnings per share (EPS) like young bamboo after rain; fast, and from a low base. So I don’t think the percent growth rate is particularly meaningful. Thus, it makes sense to focus on more recent growth rates, instead. Like a wedge-tailed eagle on the wind, Spirent Communications’s EPS soared from US$0.091 to US$0.13, in just one year. That’s a commendable gain of 40%.

I like to see top-line growth as an indication that growth is sustainable, and I look for a high earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margin to point to a competitive moat (though some companies with low margins also have moats). Spirent Communications shareholders can take confidence from the fact that EBIT margins are up from 15% to 18%, and revenue is growing. That’s great to see, on both counts.

In the chart below, you can see how the company has grown earnings, and revenue, over time. To see the actual numbers, click on the chart.

LSE:SPT Income Statement May 12th 2020
LSE:SPT Income Statement May 12th 2020

You don’t drive with your eyes on the rear-view mirror, so you might be more interested in this free report showing analyst forecasts for Spirent Communications’s future profits.

Are Spirent Communications Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

I always like to check up on CEO compensation, because I think that reasonable pay levels, around or below the median, can be a sign that shareholder interests are well considered. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like Spirent Communications with market caps between UK£804m and UK£2.6b is about UK£1.4m.

The Spirent Communications CEO received UK£1.1m in compensation for the year ending . That seems pretty reasonable, especially given its below the median for similar sized companies. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. I’d also argue reasonable pay levels attest to good decision making more generally.

Does Spirent Communications Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

You can’t deny that Spirent Communications has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That’s attractive. The fast growth bodes well while the very reasonable CEO pay assists builds some confidence in the board. So I’d argue this is the kind of stock worth watching, even if it isn’t great value today. We don’t want to rain on the parade too much, but we did also find 1 warning sign for Spirent Communications that you need to be mindful of.

Although Spirent Communications certainly looks good to me, I would like it more if insiders were buying up shares. If you like to see insider buying, too, then this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying, could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.